Duel Monsters

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Yugi Muto and Joey Wheeler playing Duel Monsters

Duel Monsters (デュエル モンスターズ, Dyueru Monsutāzu), originally known as Magic and Wizards (マジックアンドウィザーズ or M&Wマジックアンドウィザーズ, Majikku ando Wizāzu), is the card game played in the various Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime series. It was created by Maximillion Pegasus, who based the card designs on ancient Egyptian carvings and hieroglyphs.

The name Magic & Wizards is used in the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and early portions of the English Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, while it was printed in Shonen Jump. The Toei anime and the other anime series, and reprints and new portions of the English manga, use Duel Monsters. Other dubs and localizations, such as the Swedish Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime, kept Magic & Wizards despite the change.



The Basic rules were used during Death-T and earlier.

  • There are two players in each Duel.[1]
  • Each player makes a Deck using 40 cards.[1] The Decks are shuffled before a Duel.[2]
  • There are two kinds of cards; Monster Cards and Spell Cards.[3]
  • Each player starts with 2000 Life Points. If a player runs out of Life Points they lose.[1]
  • At the beginning of a Duel, each player draws five cards, which become their hand.[4]
  • The players take turns. Each turn the turn player draws one card from their Deck.[1]
    • If a player cannot draw because there are no more cards in their Deck, they lose.
  • The turn player can Summon cards from their hand in Attack or Defense Mode.[1] Attack Mode is vertical. Defense Mode is horizontal.[3]
  • The turn player can attack with Attack Mode monsters.[3]
    • If an Attack Mode monster battles another Attack Mode monster, the monster with the lower ATK is destroyed and its controller loses Life Points equal to the difference.[3]
    • When Attack Mode monsters with equal ATK battle, both are destroyed.
    • If an Attack Mode monster attacks a Defense Mode monster and its ATK is higher than the defending monster's DEF, the defending monster is destroyed and no Life Points are lost.[3]
    • If an Attack Mode monster attacks a Defense Mode monster and its ATK is lower than the defending monster's DEF, neither monster is destroyed and the controller of the attacking monster loses Life Points equal to the difference in the ATK and DEF.[3]
    • If a player does not have a monster to defend from their opponent's monsters attack, the monster's ATK is deducted from the defenseless player's Life Points.[1]
  • Destroyed cards go to the Graveyard.[3]
  • The turn player can activate Spell Cards from their hand.[4]
  • Spell Cards cannot battle, but can be used to affect other cards or the players.[3]
  • Spell Cards can be played face-down on the field until they are ready to be used.[3]
  • Spell Cards are sent to the Graveyard after they have been used.
  • Some monsters have effects which alter gameplay.


The Standard rules contained the basic rules, with some additional ones. These were used during the Japanese National Duel Monsters Championship and the Duelist Kingdom tournament.

  • More types of cards were added, including Equip,[5] Trap,[6] Illusion[7] and Virus.[8] Several hybrids, such as Trap Spell, also exist.
    • Trap Cards can be activated during either players' turn in response to certain actions. Only one Trap Card can be used per turn.[9]
    • Virus Cards are used to destroy cards in the opponent's Deck using a virus.[10]
  • Monsters were divided into Monster and Magic-User Cards.[11] This distinction is rarely mentioned.
  • Chart showing each element's strength. Magic Users are on top. Other monsters are below.
    Monsters and Magic-Users have Elements, each with strengths and weaknesses.[11]
  • Monsters can be played in face-down Attack Mode.[11] However, this is rarely done.
  • Monsters can be fused together using the card "Polymerization".[15] "Polymerization" and the fused monsters are still in play after a Fusion. Unlike the OCG and TCG, monsters are not taken from the Extra Deck.[16]
  • Ritual Spell Cards can be used to Ritual Summon a monster by sacrificing monsters that meet a certain criteria.[17]


Dark Yugi and Kaiba using the Expert rules.

The Expert rules were used with the first version Duel Disks. This alters many of the previous rules and adds more.

  • Each player can only hold five cards at a time.[16]
    • If a player has five cards at the start of their turn, they cannot draw a card.[16]
    • If a player has less than five cards at the start of their turn, they draw until they have five.
  • The Duel Disk contains five stages; the main card stage and four sub card stages. The main card is played in the main stage. All the player's other cards in their hand are played in the sub stages.[10]
  • Monsters in the main monster can be played in Attack or Defense Mode. Monsters in the sub stages are all in Attack Mode.[10]
  • The main card gets special abilities and powers from the sub cards.[10]
  • Sub cards are face-down until used or attacked.[10]
  • Sub cards can be flipped face-down and shuffled.[10]
  • A player's main monster can attack their opponent's main monster or any of the opponent's face-down cards. Normal rules of battle are applied if they attack a Monster Card. Spell, Trap or Virus Cards are automatically destroyed if they are attacked.[10]

Super Expert[edit]

The Super Expert rules were introduced in the Battle City tournament, as well as the course of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. They are based on the standard rules, contain additional rules and alter previous ones. The Expert rules do not apply in Super Expert.

  • Each player starts with 4000 Life Points.[18]
  • A player's hand cannot contain more than seven cards, in the manga[18] or 6 cards, in the anime, like in the real-world game.
  • High Level monsters require sacrifices to be Summoned.
    • Level 5 and 6 monsters require one sacrifice.[18]
    • Level 7 or higher monsters require two sacrifices.[18]
  • See also: Battle City Rules.

Master Rules[edit]

The Master Rules are a modified version of the Super Expert rules with some updated terminology used starting with Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, and the addition of Tuner and Synchro Monsters for Synchro Summoning.


Other ways of playing Duel Monsters have existed throughout the series, usually using one of the previous sets of rules played under particular circumstances with additional rules added. These include:

Real world[edit]

The first actual Duel Monsters card game to be released was Yu-Gi-Oh! Bandai's Official Card Game, released by Bandai in September 1998. Only three Booster Packs were released before the license to produce a card game was sold to Konami. This game was never released outside Japan.

The video games Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule: Breed and Battle and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters by Konami included Duel Monsters collector's cards, which are not a part of Konami's later version of Duel Monsters (see below).

The current version of Duel Monsters is Konami's Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game (OCG). This uses far more complex rules which were introduced in later parts of the manga and anime. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game (TCG) is identical in structure and rules to the official card game, but until 2009 it was manufactured by Upper Deck Entertainment under Konami's direction. Both versions mostly contain the same cards, but there have been cards exclusive to the OCG and TCG, and most cards, such as Booster Packs, Starter and Structure Decks, are first released in the OCG.


  1. a b c d e f Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 0099: "The Cards with Teeth (Part 1)"
  2. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 03636: "Battle Beyond Hope"
  3. a b c d e f g h i Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 01010: "The Cards with Teeth (Part 2)"
  4. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 03737: "To the Death!!"
  5. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 07070 (Duelist Duel 11): "Things that Don't Change"
  6. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 06060 (Duelist Duel 1): "Challenge!!"
  7. a b Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 06262 (Duelist Duel 3): "Countdown!!"
  8. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 110110 (Duelist Duel 51): "Toons Attack!"
  9. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 210210 (Duelist Duel 151): "The Trap in the Temple!"
  10. a b c d e f g Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 102102 (Duelist Duel 43): "A Close Fight!"
  11. a b c d e Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 06161 (Duelist Duel 2): "Don't Draw That Card!!"
  12. a b c d e f Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 06666 (Duelist Duel 7): "The Trap"
  13. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 06565 (Duelist Duel 6): "Let the Duel Begin!"
  14. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 08989 (Duelist Duel 30): "Duel Without End"
  15. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 06868 (Duelist Duel 9): "Demon Lightning"
  16. a b c Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 105105 (Duelist Duel 46): "No Mercy"
  17. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 118118 (Duelist Duel 59): "The Legendary Swordsman"
  18. a b c d Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 153153 (Duelist Duel 94): "Duel of Vengeance!"